I found it interesting when you said, “Most people like to be able to complete the meaning of a work through their engagement with the work; hence don’t make it literal.  All these comments suggest that to a great extent your work at the residency seemed over-determined as it precluded this level of engagement. Your job as an artist is to try to encourage people to spend time with your work; longer than just a quick glance where the meaning is completely consumed in one look.” I recalled something I read in Art As Experience by John Dewey. He talks in the first chapter about two different views an individual may poses. One is much like your statement describes. However, his language is a bit difficult to summarize so I hope you don’t mind reading a brief section.

The rhythm of loss of integration with environment and recovery of union not only persists in man but becomes conscious with him; its conditions are material out of which he forms purposes. Emotion is the conscious sign of a break, actual or impending. The discord is the occasion that induces reflection. Desire for restoration of the union converts mere emotion into interest in objects as conditions of realization of harmony. With the realization, material of reflection is incorporated into objects as their meaning. Since the artist cares in a peculiar way for the phase of experience in which union is achieved, he does not shun moments of resistance and tension. He rather cultivates them, not for their own sake but because of their potentialities, bringing to living consciousness an experience that is unified and total, In contrast with the person whose purpose is esthetic, the scientific man is interested in problems, in situations wherein tension between the matter of observation and of thought is marked. Of course he cares for their resolution. But he does not rest in it; he passes on to another problem using an attained solution only as a stepping-stone from which to set on foot further inquiries.

(Yes, Dewey is a great person to read. A question for you – how can you update his writing to refer to the present moment in specific ways; and in your work? He was a major influence on A. Kaprow and early happenings and performance art.)

I take more the scientific approach to my art. I think such a trait has led to my work seeming “over-determined.” I tend to plan and execute my work. In doing so I began relegating spontaneity to a design element and creativity to a troubleshooting tool. This process of working likely generated the manufactured feel of my painting. What I aim to find now is a union of my artistic and scientific natures. (You will learn to trust yourself more.  Many artists work in a very different way: they try not to know how the work will turn out before they begin. And when they do know how it will turn out, they stop and do something else. Perhaps you should try a few pieces like this to see if it liberates you more…)

Some of the projects I’ve been working on are here https://coxart.wordpress.com/ I also do have a plan for a large work made of primarily faces. If my plan is carried through as it is now the piece will have over 200 faces. This is fitting with a suggestion by Cory and one of the ideas I listed on my studio work form (Have you seen Adrian Piper’s works on newspaper from the mid ‘70’s?

At any rate, seems like you are off to a good start. Just work a lot…